[JURIST] The US Supreme Court announced at midday Friday that it would hear appeals from the Federal Communications Commission and the cable industry on whether broadband services that offer computer users high-speed links to the Internet via cable are an "information service" subject to minimal regulation by federal or local authorities or whether, following lower court rulings, they constitute a telecommunications service, a finding that would require a cable operator to open its facilities to all Internet Service Providers, not just its own. The cases are FCC v. Brand X and National Cable & Telecommunications Association v. Brand X. The certiorari order is here [PDF]. The NCTA has issued a press release welcoming the order here, saying that
Establishing a deregulatory environment for cable modem service is critical to the universal deployment in the U.S. of broadband services, including emerging services such as Voice over Internet Protocol service. This case presents a fundamental question of communications law, carefully decided by the FCC and then overturned by a circuit court that simply ignored what the agency had done, refusing to accord the FCC the deference Supreme Court precedent requires. Classifying cable modem service as an interstate information service, as the FCC did, puts this innovative service on the right deregulatory pathFCC Chairman Michael Powell said in his own statement: "High-speed Internet connections are not telephones, and Im glad the Supreme Court has agreed to review the 9th Circuits ruling that they are. The 9th Circuit's decision would have grave consequences for the future and availability of high-speed Internet connections in this country." AP has more.